In the course of the plot development of a well-known film telling about the XII century crusaders “Kingdom of Heaven”, a certain victory of Jerusalem King Baldwin IV (1161-1185) over the Egyptian Sultan Saladin (1137-1193), whose consequences the Muslim ruler remembered his whole life . This is a real battle of Montjisar that took place on 25 November 1177 of the year in which a small army of "Jerusalem" (as the inhabitants of the main crusader state in the Middle East were then called) miraculously defeated several times the large army of the strongest Muslim ruler of Front Asia .
The young king Baldwin IV (Baudouin, Baudouin le Lepreux) came to the throne of the Kingdom of Jerusalem 15 on July 1174, when his father, King Amori (Amalric), suddenly died of dysentery (or from poison) at the age of just 38. The young prince received an excellent upbringing: he was taught the best knights of the kingdom to martial art, and as his main teacher he had William, Archbishop of Tire, who was not only a priest and a very educated person, but also an outstanding manager, an excellent writer and a skilled politician, being in fact prime minister of the kingdom.
King of Jerusalem at the head of his army in the film "Kingdom of Heaven" (as Balduin IV - Edward Norton)
But even at a young age, Prince Baldwin became infected with leprosy, this terrible and generally incurable disease even today, and his subjects almost immediately after his coronation began to look for a successor to him who would have received the throne of Jerusalem by marrying his sister Sibilla. This led to a fierce political struggle of various groups for influence. But the worst thing was that the internal disruption in the chief of the Crusader states in Utremere (Zamorye, from the French Territoires outré mer - Lands on the Other Side of the Sea) went against the background of the growing power of the Sultan of Egypt Yusuf ibn Ayyub , known to Europeans by its throne name as Saladin (Salahuddin).
Saladin on the background of his troops in the film "Kingdom of Heaven" (as Sultan - Gassan Massoud)
At the beginning of 1170, this ruler, descended from the Kurdish military mercenary clan and became the sultan of Egypt, after strengthening his power in the Nile Valley, capturing a number of areas in Jordan and on the Arabian Peninsula, started a war in Syria. As a result, November 27 1174, Saladin with a detachment of his troops entered Damascus, declaring this day "the day of the triumph of Sunni Islam" and "the day of the union of two jewels" - that is, Damascus joining Cairo (remember this day, we will return to this date), and soon captured Homs and Ham. However, his plans to conquer Aleppo (Aleppo), an ancient city around which heavy fighting continues today, the last major center of resistance of his power in Syria, in 1175-1176. were never implemented, because in the fight against him, Emir Aleppo relied on the help of such seemingly different forces as the Crusaders of Zamorje and the Muslim Ismaili sect of “hashishins” (assassins) of Lebanon.
Based on the current situation, Salah al-Din al-Melik al-Nazir ("The pious in the faith of Islam, the overcoming all lord" - his throne name was just so magnificent) temporarily postponed the plan for the further conquest of Syria and Iraq and decided to destroy the Kingdom of Jerusalem, as the main and largest of the possessions of Western European Christians in the Middle East.
Having managed to secretly concentrate troops in Northern Egypt, Saladin waited until the time when part of the Jerusalem armed forces were involved in an expedition to Syria, and in the fall of 1177 of the year struck an unexpected blow. At the head of a large army (at least in 26.000 soldiers), he marched to Jerusalem (according to the information of Mikhail Syrian, the patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church at the time, traveler and prominent chronicler, the total number of soldiers prepared for the campaign reached 33.000). According to Wilhelm of Tyr, who apparently relied on the testimony of prisoners, it consisted of professional infantry 18.000, mainly from Sudanese black mercenaries (as we know, Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea even today are sources of Islamism and instability) and 8.000 professional cavalry. In addition, as part of the forces prepared for the invasion was the Egyptian militia and light-wake Bedouin detachments. Most likely, these data are quite objective, for example, the latter figure correlates very well with the number of “ghoulam” corps known from Muslim sources, which was content for Saladin - in 1181, they were 8.529 people.
An example of the armament of some soldiers from the army of Saladin - dismounted and equestrian ghouls and a walking archer
It must be said that the concentration of forces by Muslims and the sudden outbreak of war turned out to be absolutely unexpected for Christians. They did not even have time to gather all the forces of the kingdom, some of which were in Syria, not to mention getting help from the rulers of Armenia, Byzantium or from Europe. Collecting his small army, which included about 2-3.000 infantry and a minimum of 300-375 of the vassal knights of the King of Jerusalem, Balduin IV addressed the enemy.
The strategic intelligence of the Crusaders then clearly failed - their agents did not notice or could not report to Jerusalem about the concentration of Saladin’s army in northeastern Egypt. In addition to the surprise factor, there was a strong underestimation of the enemy - apparently, the Jerusalemites decided that they were dealing with a large raid party or a small army marching to Ascalon to capture it, while the vanguard of a large army of Islamists was aimed at capturing the capital and destroying The kingdom of Jerusalem as such.
The plan of the Crusaders was supposed to stop the invasion of the "detachment" of the enemy in the border area in the area of the ancient city of Ascalon (present-day Ashkelon in southern Israel). In general, it should be said that the kingdom of Jerusalem in the XII century geographically resembled the modern state of Israel, whereas Egypt, Northern Arabia, most of Syria and part of northern Iraq were in the possession of Saladin, and, therefore, the mobilization resources of Muslims were several times larger, which has always complicated the situation for the crusaders.
In accordance with this plan, a detachment of light Christian cavalry "Turkopolov" ("Turkoplay", "Turkopulov"), carrying out the functions of border guards, apparently tried to repel the invasion as it seemed "raid party", but was defeated in a battle with a large Muslim the vanguard. By the way, “Turkopolis” were a very interesting type of troops, which the Crusaders of Zamorie introduced in their presence under the influence of local conditions: they were horse archers on fast horses in light armor, who performed functions like the Cossacks in Russia - defense of borders front reconnaissance and other traveling light cavalry service. Turkopolis were recruited from local Orthodox Christians, or from Muslims who converted to Orthodoxy or Catholicism; It is possible that they included Muslims who for other reasons migrated to the territory of the Christian states of the Middle East, and who were allowed to continue to practice their religion subject to military service (just like, for example, Israeli Muslim Arabs).
Cavalry of the Kingdom of Jerusalem: Knight-Templar, equestrian sergeant and equestrian archer of the Turkopolov corps
A small contingent of Templars from the frontier fortress of Gaza moved to support the Turkopol squad, but was also forced to retreat back to the fortress, where it was blocked by an Islamist squad. However, the main thing that the frontier units did was that they could, if not detain the invasion, then at least inform the main forces of the crusaders about the approach of a huge Muslim army. The troops under the command of King Balduin IV, realizing that they had no chance in a field battle, were able to avoid destruction and go to Ascalon, where they were also blocked, while the main army of Saladin continued to move to Jerusalem. Ramla was captured and burned; The ancient port of Arsuf and the city of Lod (Lydda), the birthplace of Sv. George the Victorious, who is considered the patron saint of Christian soldiers. Worst of all, even the garrison of Jerusalem was greatly weakened: the airbahn with a force of several thousand infantry from the Jerusalem militia, speaking a little later than the forces of the king and greatly lagging behind on the road, was surrounded and destroyed by superior Saracen troops. It seemed that the kingdom of Jerusalem was put on the brink of destruction.
Prepare the parties for battle
Saladin also believed that his plan was being implemented quite successfully: the Crusader strike forces were lured into the field and destroyed or blocked in parts in the fortresses, and his army slowly (due to the large convoy carrying siege vehicles), but surely went to the cherished the targets are the city of Al-Quds (as the Arabs call Jerusalem). But Rex Hierosolomitanus Balduin IV decided that he should at all costs try to save his capital, and by a surprise attack knocking down the blocking forces, he marched out of Ascalon following the main army of Muslims.
Crusader warriors of that era, based on the theoretical concepts of St.. Bernard of Clairvaux, some other Christian writers, and also on previous battles experience, believed that they could crush an army that was much larger in size even by a small detachment, but if there were a number of conditions (which, one might say, have not lost their relevance today) . First, if there are a sufficient number of highly mobile (then mounted) soldiers armed with the most modern and high-quality weapons; secondly, if there is professional military training for these soldiers, including the ability to act in conditions of unusual terrain, for example, in desert conditions; thirdly, it was necessary for these warriors to have the highest motivation in the deep Christian faith, to keep their minds clean and ready to accept death in battle as the highest reward for achievement. As we will see later, all this among the soldiers of Balduin IV’s army was there.
Saladin at that time believed that his opponent was no longer able to challenge him in a field battle and allowed his troops to behave as if they had already won the final victory. His army was divided into groups and small parties, which scattered across the southern and central part of the kingdom of Jerusalem, robbing, plundering and capturing the inhabitants. Seeing no real threat from the garrisons of the fortresses and preparing the blockade of Jerusalem, the Sultan, apparently, specially dismissed part of the troops for loot. After all, everything that was captured or burned on enemy territory made the enemy economically weaker, and at the same time served as evidence of the alleged inability of the Christian rulers to protect their land.
Moreover, Islamic fundamentalist theologians in his entourage (by the way, just like the preachers of modern radical Islam) stated that the capture of the ruins and settlements of local residents, among which even under the authority of the Crusaders, were Muslims, was a well-deserved punishment. for them because instead of conducting “Gazavat” against Christians, they allowed “kafirs” to rule over themselves, having entered into an alliance with them, and thereby became “traitors to the interests of Islam” - “munafiqs”. Although in reality everything was much simpler - the Kingdom of Jerusalem was different, apart from the accepted freedom of religion, also by reasonably balanced governance and well-developed legislation (and from the exact Koranic, not propaganda point of view, it was Saladin himself who was a munaphik, which proved and its behavior in the Battle of Tell Al-Safit, for which he was subjected to reproaches and ridicule from other "jihadists").
Here is what Muslim writer and traveler Ibn Jubayr wrote about the Crusader states, who during that era made a haj through North Africa to Arabia: “Our path took place among endless fields and settlements, the Muslim inhabitants of which feel fine on the lands of the Franks ... The Franks do not require anything more than a small fruit tax. The houses belong to the Muslims themselves, as well as all the good that is in them.
... All the cities of the Syrian coast, in the hands of the Franks, are subject to their Christian laws, and most of the land holdings - villages and small villages - belong to Muslims, and they have Sharia norms.
The hearts of many of these Muslims have mental turmoil when they see the situation of their fellow believers who live in the lands of Islamic rulers, because in terms of well-being and respect for their rights, their position is the exact opposite. The biggest shame for Muslims is that they have to endure injustice from their rulers, the coreligionists, and at the same time the enemies of their faith rule them with justice ... "
Reading these lines, one can only be surprised that "everything returns to normal". For example, these words of a medieval traveler can be easily applied to a comparative description of the position of modern Israeli Arabs and their brethren in the Palestinian Authority or in Syria.
So, thanks to the observance of the rights of all citizens and the correct tax policy that ensured the country's economic prosperity, even Muslims in the Crusader states lived “under the yoke of Christians” much more comfortable than under the rule of their own co-religionists in neighboring Syria or Egypt. The kingdom of Jerusalem was like a model, showing not only the advantages of Christian government, but also an example of the prosperous coexistence of three world religions within one state. And that was one of a number of reasons why Saladin needed to destroy him.